by Jim and Tony Nordland
    It appears that the 2003 NYS Intersectional Tournament will be the last year for crowning one individual state champion. Starting next year the State Tournament will crown separate champions for both large and small schools. The enrollment dividing line is set at 600 students. This format has been approved on a two-year trial basis and after that period a panel will review the concept and render a final decision. Many wrestlng experts have mixed feelings about the change, including state chairman Reed Hawke. Hawke stated, "Having two tournaments will mean more recognition for good wrestlers, but personally I would favor bringing two or three kids from every section in each weight class and keeping the one tournament format. Hawke also added, "That many of the good small schools are opposed and hope that the change will be temporary."  Our best wrestlers in the state, such as the three returning champions; Troy Nickerson (Chenango Forks), Ryan Needle (Newfane) and Chris Hand (Whitney Point) all hail from small schools. Another thought is to expand the tournament to 26 competitors (two from each section) and award the top eight place-finishers in each weight class with medals. The Empire State now has 562 high school wrestling programs, the second-most in the country behind California which has over 800 competing schools. Only four states, New York, California, New Jersey and Indiana still have a single classification tournament.
     In the last big dual meet of the year, Spencerport defeated Canandaigua, 36-25, in front of about 1,800 fans at Finger Lakes Community College. The Spencerport Rangers (13-1) were led by state-ranked Josh Fuller (103), Mike Terenzi (130), Matt Legas (145), highly touted Steve Stulpin (160), Sabastian Baliva (171), Alex Baxter (189) and Andy Peters who recorded a first period fall at 215 pounds. The Canandaigua Braves (12-2) responded with key victories from Kyle Ingraham (112), state runner-up Trevor Chinn (135) and highly regarded Tom Cuppernell at 152 pounds.
     The Section Four championships were won by the number one ranked team in the state, Johnson City, as they amassed 225 points to easily outdistance runner-up Chenango Forks (129), Union-Endicott (118), Oxford (107) and Bainbridge-Guilford/Afton (104). They crowned three champions, Steve Wiktorek (119), top ranked Josh Glenn (152) and Nolan Robinson (189). Returning state champions Troy Nickerson (112) of Chenango Forks and Chris Hand (145) of Whitney Point remained unscathed and will attempt defend their state crowns next week in Syracuse.
     At the section Two Championships two potential state champions met in the 130-pound final. Three-time state place-winner Steve Sutton (Troy LaSalle) defeated sectional champion Joe Whitaker (Queensbury), 5-1, to earn his fourth trip to the state tournament. Other Albany area athletes that will challenge at the state meet are three-time sectional winner Matt Stuart (125) of Colonie, teammates Mike Roberts (140) and state place-winner Josh Stenglein at 145 pounds. Returning state runner-up Dwayne Hash-Barberis of Scotia dominated as he scored a technical fall in the finals to capture the 160-pound title.
     Section Six power Salamanca led all teams as they scored 101 points finishing ahead of Newfane (93), Fredonia (91), Niagara Wheatfield (77) and Iroquois (75). Winning his fourth sectional title was two-time state champion unbeaten Ryan Needle (140) of Newfane. Needle hopes to earn his third state crown and become a four-time state place-winner. He is currently ranked sixth in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News at 140 pounds. Congratulations to Newfane coach Dick Lang who was selected as NFWOA Coach-of-the-Year. Other top prospects for the Buffalo area look to be tough Lorne McCallum (125) of Lancaster who finished third at the 2002 state meet, Jaymee Minner (145) of Salamanca and Dan Murrer (160) of Williamsville-East. Both Minner and Murrer are returning state medalists.
     Chaminade won the CHSAA Championships as they tallied 318 points and crowned four champions. Garnering titles for the Flyers were Ian McMenamin (96), Derek Russ (103), Chris Memoli (125) and highly touted junior Neil Franciotti at 152 pounds. Veteran coach George Dlugolonski feels the CHSAA team can finish in the top ten in the sectional standings
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